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Scott Olsen dominant on the mound, upset with bullpen role

Slumped in a chair in front of his locker after his first bullpen appearance in more than five years, Scott Olsen was happy about two things. The Nationals had won, and his mother was in town and got to watch him pitch. The four no-hit innings he threw brought him little joy. He had pitched as a reliever, which is something he has positively no interest in doing.

"I'd like to start," Olsen said. "I don't want to be a bullpen guy."

Much of Olsen's displeasure with throwing out of the bullpen stems from how it alters his warm-up. He is accustomed to playing catch from roughly 140 feet before starts to loosen up his arm, which he can't do from the bullpen.

"The biggest difference in not being able to throw 140 feet before I get on the mound," Olsen said. "That's not going to work. I've done it. I don't get on the mound unless I play long toss. That's the biggest difference."

Olsen's glum postgame demeanor belied his excellence earlier in the afternoon. Olsen allowed no hits and two walks to the Mets in four innings. He struck out three, pounding the strike zone and keeping his sinker low.

"He really threw good," Manager Jim Riggleman said. "He threw strikes. He threw his breaking ball well. He threw in effectively. That may not be something that he's fired up to do. But he did it for the ballclub today, and he did a great job."

The Nationals have a crowded starting rotation with Yunesky Maya replacing Olsen tomorrow and Ross Detwiler also waiting his turn to pitch. Before today, Olsen went 1-6 with an 8.72 ERA in seven starts since coming off the disabled list.

He pitched well enough to make a case he deserves another start, which Riggleman has said he'll give to Olsen. In the meantime, he won't be happy about his role on the Nationals.

"Obviously, I don't want to be in the bullpen," Olsen said. "I'd rather start. That's not what they want me to do."

By Adam Kilgore  |  September 6, 2010; 5:20 PM ET
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You takes yer millions, you do what your told and like it, Mr. 5.58 ERA. Don't become a clubhouse malignancy.

Posted by: Natstoyou | September 6, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

There's a hole in this story - Scott gets $100,000 for each start now; that might influence his thoughts on relieving, well, just a bit. :)

Posted by: swanni | September 6, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse

There's that $100,00 per start that's for sure ... has to influence a lot of management's thinking ... and Scotty O's mood as pointed out previously. IMHO, they need to look at all these pitchers and Olsen is in the mix given the dearth of left handed starters right now. Detwiler could be in the bullpen at times or alternate starts. If you look at Lannan he has to be considered trade bait ... they have too many #5 starters in this rotation as it is. While Lannan is still young enough and cheap enough to command a decent return in prospects.

That's entirely up to Olsen and Detwiler to prove that he is replaceable. So, far neither has lived up to their promise. While Lannan regressed quite a bit and then came back to perform as he typically has in the past.

Posted by: periculum | September 6, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

I don't remember hearing Craig Stammen complaining about being relegated to the bullpen. Olsen needs to shut up and pitch. If he had been throwing well and got demoted, he may have a case. But he got ROCKED his last two starts and gave the team NO chance to win. After today's outing, I was really hoping for him to say how the experience was positive for him, and how he was glad to contribute to a win, etc. But no...

Posted by: DavidandDonald1 | September 6, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Scott's not only playing for $100K per start, he's also trying to earn himself a contract for next year. He most certainly feels like he needs, and deserves, a chance to redeem himself.
I hope he does get another couple starts this month, since this month is just about auditions.
As far as I'm concerned, we can shut down Livo. What's the point in his pitching more. Conserve the bullpen? We've got a battalion out there now with the expanded roster.
Marquis and Lannan both need another start or two. Not much more. Nothing about their roles in April 2011 is going to hinge on what happens in the last two weeks of September. If Lannan gets more than 2 starts, that's setting him up for trade discussions (nod to peric).
Maya and Detwiler and J Zimm need work. After that, I'd say Olsen.
Yeah, he should get some more starts, regardless of whether each one costs $100K.

Posted by: Sunderland | September 6, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

I've got no problem with Olsen's reaction. He did his job and did it well...he just doesn't like it, that's all. Nats took a gamble on him and he's had mixed results, particularly after coming back off the DL. He wants to be a starter but it's not clear that he still has the mojo he showed in his early years in Florida. May just be a situation where the team and the player go in different directions.

Posted by: McKinley2 | September 6, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

@Sunderland: Shutting down Livo is something I hadn't thought of but makes great sense. The whole world knows what you've got in Livo. And you're right about Olsen getting more starts. That $100K is probably what the park rakes in from helmut sundaes.

Posted by: SorenKierkegaard | September 6, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

>"The biggest difference in not being able to throw 140 feet before I get on the mound," Olsen said. "That's not going to work. I've done it. I don't get on the mound unless I play long toss. That's the biggest difference."

No, the biggest problem is that you smoke cigarettes and it keeps your weight down. Not to mention mess with your attitude big time. Got no pop in your thighs, no whip action in your shoulder. You're lucky they found a spot for you. You could get a middle reliever's contract for next year because you couldn't go more than 3 or 4 innings anyway. You just wacked out and dreaming, buddy.

Posted by: Brue | September 6, 2010 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Now here we have a pitcher who got absolutely killed his last two starts mouthing off about not getting a chance to earn his "role" back as a starter, but when Nyjer reacted to being moved to a lower spot in the batting order he was basically torched on this blog by a lot of you, now i have no problem with Olsen being competitive but where's the fairness?

Posted by: dargregmag | September 6, 2010 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Darg, I know you know a lot more about baseball than the rest of us, you've watched more, played more, you probably even own the Bull Durham DVD. But left handed pitchers who show occasional flashes of dominance tend to get a few more chances on a .430 team than a sub-average offensive and sub-average defensive outfielder.

Posted by: SorenKierkegaard | September 6, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Greed and no accountability. What more is there to say?

Posted by: rogieshan | September 6, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

The philosopher is right. Lefties who have a flicker get more chances than righties. It's the way of the world. OTOH, he looked (wrong, he was) unhittable today.

BTW, can't shut down Livo yet. He has to throw Wednesday. The last time we started a pair of Cuban pitchers back to back their names were Pascual and Ramos. I could look up the dates, but I think I'm too old.

Posted by: mikecatcher50 | September 6, 2010 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps, just perhaps, Olsen's problem is his warmup procedure! Next time Riggs is willing to gamble a reverse blowout and gives him a start, DON'T let him long-throw to get loose. I'm just partially kidding. What a sourpuss; Riggs shows confidence in him enough to bring him into a game still in some doubt, and how does Olsen respond? Pout.

Posted by: Slidell | September 6, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse

The last time we started a pair of Cuban pitchers back to back their names were Pascual and Ramos. I could look up the dates, but I think I'm too old.

Posted by: mikecatcher50 | September 6, 2010 7:57 PM

Camilo and Pedro.

I'm old enough to remember them. Camilo Pascual was a damned good pitcher.

Posted by: gilbertbp | September 6, 2010 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and the dates would have had to have been sometime in 1960, because in 1961, the Senators moved to Minnesota.

Posted by: gilbertbp | September 6, 2010 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Well, he did ok today without long toss. Hard to prove changing his cherished warmup routine mattered if you look at today's results.

He's never been better than mediocre. Career losing record, lots of time lost to injuries the last 2 years. His ceiling is a league average starter - not to be sneered at, but still, how much money and energy do the Nats need to expend on him? The Pirates might have a starting slot for him next year.

Posted by: utec | September 6, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

What Brue said.

Re Ramos: Was he ever a starter? I dimly remember him as an ace in the Yankees' bullpen. Good trivia question: What Cuban reliever, and, later, HOF manager had the same Yankee number as Lou Piniella (not to mention Moose Skowron)?

Posted by: paulkp | September 6, 2010 8:20 PM | Report abuse

Actually, it almost could have been in the late 60s, as both came back to Sens II very late in their careers.

BTW, if you want real irony, Livan needs 9 wins to tie "Little Potato" (Pascual) as the 8th winningest Latino pitcher of all time. The downside is that he just past Ramos as the 5th losingest Latino pitcher of all time and needs 9 more losses to pass Pascual for 4th on that list.

It really is a shame that with Friday night being Hispanic heritage night, they can't bring both of them back. I know that Ramos lives in Cuba, but Pascual is in the US and there must be some way to bring them both in. Maybe next year, when Maya has really established himself.

One other thing. Pascual's best year, he made 51K. Ramos never made more than the low twenties. I wonder what Maya will make for tomorrow night's effort.

Posted by: mikecatcher50 | September 6, 2010 8:21 PM | Report abuse

Paul K...Yes, he was a starter for the Senators (he never played for the Nationals). In fact, he started 37 games (remember, 154 game schedule) in '58.

I did see him give up one memorable HR. If you think that Espinosa's shot into right was something, Ramos gave one up to Teddy Ballgame (last away HR) that cleared the 30 foot wall in right field at Griffith. I swear it was still going up. Like Espinosa's, it was simply a line shot.

Posted by: mikecatcher50 | September 6, 2010 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Soren: Yes i have played and watched more baseball than most of you (LMAO!) that being stated i reserve the right to question some of my fellow bloggers about treating my man Nyjer fairly, and on another note i had the pleasure of seeing both Pedro Ramos and Camilo Pascual during their time with the Senators at the old Griffith Stadium.

Posted by: dargregmag | September 6, 2010 9:09 PM | Report abuse

Scott Olsen, paging Mr. Scot Olsen..., please pickup the white courtesy phone located in the main terminal..., your two tickets two paradise have been approved.

Mr. Rizzo we have a candidate for a trade over the winter, BTW looks like the Mets could use some arms, how'bout New York Scott I hear the weather is fine!

Posted by: TippyCanoe | September 6, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

Wonder what Rizzo could get if he packaged Olsen and Nyjer into a trade?

Posted by: nattydread1 | September 7, 2010 1:42 AM | Report abuse

Wonder what Rizzo could get if he packaged Olsen and Nyjer into a trade?

Posted by: nattydread1 | September 7, 2010 1:42 AM | Report abuse

Pedro "Pete" Ramos was not only a pretty good starting pitcher for a few years, but he was also one of the fastest players in the league and was often used as a pinchrunner.

Posted by: justmike | September 7, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Ramos and Pascual were two of my childhood heroes. They complemented each other well. While Ramos was never the premier pitcher that Camilo Pascual was, he was a very dependable guy. I think of them as workhorse and racehorse respectively, with Ramos pitching several more innings over the season than Pascual. I "remember" the pair being the dominant starters for Washington for a long time. But then again I was only 9 or 10 and even a stretch of three years would have seemed a long time back then. One wonders how each would have faired had they been on a contending team rather than a doormat.

Posted by: gnatman | September 7, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

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